ARC REVIEW: Now I Rise – by Kiersten White @kierstenwhite @DelacortePress

Title: Now I Rise
(The Conqueror’s Saga #2)
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 13th 2017
Pages: 496

“The world will destroy her in the end. Too much spark leads to explosions. But your sister will destroy as much as she can before she goes out. She will go down in flames and blood.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to this series, but I was hooked as soon as I finished the first chapter of And I Darken. I had the privilege of receiving an ARC copy of the sequel early (trust me, I still can’t believe my request was actually approved!), and after finishing the first book I wanted to continue with the sequel right away. Now I Rise by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. This second book of The Conqueror’s Saga starts out strong and stays that way until the very end. The focus is slightly different than in the first book, mostly because it has two completely different storylines this time and the story switches between those POVs. I personally liked this change and it didn’t distract from the main plot at all, especially since there is still an obvious connection between the two storylines both through the characters and the plot itself. I also liked the glbt elements in the series in general, although I do have to say the love triangle bits did started to bother me as well as some of the decisions of the characters. This is probably the only negative thing I could find about this series though! Because there is no doubt I’m truly enjoying this Vlad The Impaler based series so far. Another thing that stood out for me is that there is more action and more fighting in Now I Rise, although it is balanced with further excellent character development and detailed descriptions of the worldbuilding and historical references that will make it feel as if you were back in the 15th century yourself. Because there is no doubt that Kiersten White‘s writing style is wonderful and will have you under its spell… Well written, beautiful, rich, engaging and highly addictive: Now I Rise will have you in its claws and won’t let you go until you reach the last page, leaving you wanting for more. Thankfully the sequel doesn’t end with that big of a cliffhanger, making the wait for book three a little more tolerable… Although it’s still going to be a long one.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Lada Dracul decided to start fighting to fulfill her own dreams, but that will be more difficult than it seems. Because she has no allies and no throne: just herself and a handful of loyal men. She wasn’t able to secure the Wallachian throne as easily as was promised, but is determined to punish anyone who dares to stand in her way and prevent her from succeeding. On the other hand, Radu is still at Mehmed’s side with a completely different goal in mind. One that will ask even more from Radu than he has already given… What will happen to them and will they be able to succeed in their goals?

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After already enjoying And I Darken I had high hopes for the sequel, and Now I Rise definitely didn’t disappoint. There is a slightly different focus in the sequel, but I personally liked these changes and two different storylines each with a lot of action, intrigue and its own web of secrets and lies. The historical worldbuilding is very well done and sets the right atmosphere for what is already an excellent story. I wasn’t a fan of some of the romance and I didn’t agree with every decision made, but those are only minor complaints compared to my love for the writing style. I can’t wait to try more of Kiersten White‘s books in the future! And The Conqueror’s Saga book three is going straight to my list of most anticipated 2018 releases. Is it June 2018 yet?


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BOOK REVIEW: And I Darken – by Kiersten White

Title: And I Darken
(The Conqueror’s Saga #1)
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 28th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 8th 2017
Pages: 498

“There is power in stillness. There is power in watching, waiting, saying the right thing at the right time to the right person. There is power in being a woman – oh yes, power in these bodies you gaze upon with derision.”

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I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it last year, and not just because of the beautiful cover… Because the combination of medieval setting, potentially strong main character and intriguing plot just sounded to good to be true. Why didn’t I pick up And I Darken earlier, would you say? Part of the reason is most likely the enormous hype around this story, because hyped books and me don’t really go along in general. I’ve seen quite a few mixed reviews out there, making me feel a bit hesitant to pick it up… But I just couldn’t resist the historical setting and reference to Vlad the Impaler in the end. And while I had a few minor complaints that made me remove a star from what I initially thought would be a perfect rating, I ended up enjoying And I Darken so much better than I thought I would. It’s my first experience with Kiersten White‘s writing style (if you don’t count her short story in My True Love Gave To Me, which I LOVED), and it has been a very positive one. Her writing style is beautiful, rich and very engaging and made this story so much more enjoyable.  Both the worldbuilding and descriptions are extensive and well executed; it really felt as if I was transported back in time and fully merged into the world along with the main characters. The plot is very intriguing and full of twists, secrets and surprises. I could have done without the love triangle/ forbidden love parts, but I guess that is just me not liking romance in the first place. As for the characters: some of them are not exactly likeable, but I ended up being able to connect to most of them anyway. I found myself to be fully absorbed into this story and rooting for those characters I favored more… I didn’t approve of every decision they made, but the character development in general is without doubt excellent. In short I had a great time raeding And I Darken in general, and I can’t wait to continue with Now I Rise! If you like reading YA fantasy and find historical twists and retellings just as intriguing as I do, definitely give this series a go.

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Lada Dragwlya might have been born a girl, but she is by no means the weak and docile princess her father suspected her to be. There is a fire in her, something that seems to be missing in her gentle younger brother, Radu… But that didn’t stop him from abandoning them both to be raised in the Ottoman courts as a form for the sultan to control their father. Lada and Radu are now pawns in a vicious game and their lineage makes them both special and targets at the same time. Lada only really want to find a way back home to Wallachia and claim her birthright, but Radu only wants to find a place where he feels safe. Both seem impossible, but everything changes as they meet Mehmed, the son of the sultan… Things are never as they seem and feelings can change, but what will happen to them in the end?

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It took me a long time to finally pick up my copy of And I Darken, but I’m definitely glad I’ve done so. I’ve fallen in love with Kiersten White‘s writing style and her ability to create an extensive worldbuilding filled with excellent descriptions and an intriguing plot. And while it wasn’t the 5 star read I thought it would be after reading the first few chapters, there is no doubt a very much enjoyed reading Lada, Radu and Mehmed’s story and I can’t wait to find out what the future has in store.


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ARC REVIEW: Two Sisters – by Kerry Wilkinson @kerrywk @bookouture

Title: Two Sisters
Author: Kerry Wilkinson

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 23rd 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 6th 2017
Pages: 350

“A magician is only as smart as the audience is stupid – and when someone is as good at not eating as I am, everyone becomes very stupid indeed.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I always have a weak spot for a good psychological thriller and I was drawn to Two Sisters as soon as I saw the cover and blurb. My first impression wasn’t wrong: this story without doubt delivered. Two Sisters isn’t just another well written suspense story with an intriguing plot and a mystery to unravel though. Why? One of the main characters (the older sister, Megan) has an eating disorder and her struggle is present throughout the story. Besides the fact that it was really interesting to see how she deals with this on a daily basis while also being exposed to very stressful situations, her situation was very well described and added a whole different level to this story. I’m not sure I actually liked her character (or most of the others), but the development of the characters in general is very realistic and they feel genuine. The writing style is very engaging and makes it really easy to enjoy this story, and the many many plot twists will keep you guessing about what is really going on until the very end. Trust me, you won’t see the final revelations coming! In short, Two Sisters is a well written psychological thriller with a healthy dose of mystery and suspense that also manages to incorporate a very important topic (eating disorder) realistically while adding an original touch to the story at the same time. There are lots and lots of plot twists as well to keep you busy and all in all it’s a great read!

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Megan was ten and Chloe only six when their older brother Zac went missing in the small seaside town of Whitecliff. The family owns a cottage there and they tend to spend the summer there, although not always together. The summer Zac went missing, he had been spending most of his time there alone, so they didn’t miss him until it had been nearly two days. It was told he probably drowned, but his body was never found… And Megan is not so sure if that was what really happened. When a car crash takes the lives of both their parents, Megan and Chloe return to Whitecliff to get their parents’ affairs in order there. But is that all there is to it? Or is Megan hiding something? And what do the locals really know about what happened to Zac that summer?

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Two Sisters is without doubt a well executed psychological thriller that is both entertaining to read, filled with plot twists and has a little original touch with the incorporation of the ‘eating disorder’ theme. I like how this element plays a role throughout the story and the importance it is given; it not only turns Megan into a very interesting character but also helps spread the word about the topic in the first place. And while the characters weren’t exactly likeable, this story is still very much appealing anyway. You will want to unravel Whitecliff’s secrets for yourself!


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ARC REVIEW: The Mayfly – by James Hazel @JamesHazelBooks @BonnierZaffre

Title: The Mayfly
(Charlie Priest #1)
Author: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Genre: James Hazel
First published: June 15th 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Finished reading: June 3rd 2017
Pages: 432

“I don’t know what history will remember me as. A murderer? A scientist? A revolutionalist? I suppose it depends who writes the textbook you’re reading. But history will remember me.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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The cover is what first caught my attention, but it was the blurb that sealed the deal. I mean, a psychological thriller AND a connection to WWII? That’s basically combining two of my favorite genres and simply irresistible. This story mosty definitely didn’t disappoint. I actually didn’t know that The Mayfly is the first book of a new series, but now now I’ve finished this story I will be looking forward to see more of Charlie Priest in the future. The Mayfly reads almost like a private detective story, but Charlie Priest is actually a lawyer instead (and ex-cop). Charlie has a lot of flaws and a messed up personal life, but his character didn’t feel like a cliche at all. In fact, with a serial killer for a brother and his dissociative disorder Priest scores top marks for being an intriguing character. The plot itself is fascinating and I loved the chapters that went back to events set just after WWII. The references to the Holocaust add a whole different level to this story and really made The Mayfly stand out for me. There were quite a lot of twists and while I expected some things to happen, I didn’t guess the full truth until the very end. I could have done without the love triangle and romance scenes in general though, although it’s just the love triangle itself that didn’t add anything substantial to the plot. Also, some of the things that happen can make you doubt the credibility of it all… For example: how did they manage to go on for years without being catched? But those are only minor complaints about what is still essentially a highly entertaining rollercoaster ride.

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Charlie Priest used to be a DI, but is now a successful lawyer despite his flaws and has quite a few important clients. One day he is hired by the influential entrepeneur Kenneth Ellinder to investigate the murder of his son. Priest doesn’t want to take the case at first, but circumstances leave him no other option than to find out what is happening. People seem determined to keep Priest from discovering the truth though, and he might be in more danger than he thinks he is… And more importantly, he isn’t sure who he can trust in the first place.

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There is no doubt that The Mayfly is a fascinating story that will definitely appeal to psychological thriller fans. The flashbacks and connections to the Second World War added a whole different level to what was already an intriguing plot and definitely made me appreciate this story even more. I had a few minor doubts, but those are just that: minor. The writing style and pace turned The Mayfly into a superfast read and I will be looking forward to see more of Charlie Priest in the future!


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ARC REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil – by Tim Symonds @ReadingAlley

Title: Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil
Author: Tim Symonds

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
First published: November 6th 2016
Publisher: MX Publishing
Finished reading: May 31st 2017
Pages: 233

“Chinese dragons don’t have wings but they can fly into the sky. They don’t breathe fire but can summon rain. And like the tiger, if they so wish they embody the spirit and drive to achieve and make progress.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Reading Alley and MX Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I was in desperate need of a break from the books I was currently reading and needed something quite different, and that is when I stumbled across this story. I can always appreciate a good historical fiction story, especially when it’s set in a foreign culture… Add a healthy dose of mystery and murder plot and I was sold. Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil is, as you might have guessed from the title, a Sherlock Holmes retelling and a very well executed one as well. I’m sure most people are at least vaguely aware of the original characters and I for myself always enjoy a good retelling around these characters if it’s done right. Tim Symonds without doubt did an excellent job both in keeping true to the essence of the original characters; they felt authentic and I felt as if I were taken back straight to that era. The bantering between Holmes and Watson is perfectly portrayed! Furthermore, the descriptions of China, its customs, characters and other facts is very detailed and it shows that the author has researched the topic thoroughly. The plot is intriguing with quite a lot of twists, although I personally could guess who was behind it all quite early on. This didn’t take away from the reading pleasure though as I enjoyed following Holmes and Watson during their journey. Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon is a very well written historical fiction mystery and the Chinese setting is brilliantly executed. Perfect for fans of the genre!

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It’s the year 1906 and Sherlock Holmes’ skills might be needed once again… Although this time in the faraway Peking. There are rumors a deadly plot is hatching and it’s up to Holmes to discover whether such a plot exists and if so stop it before it’s too late. But who exactly is the intented target in the first place: the young and progressive Ch’ing Emperor or his aunt, the fearsome Empress Dowager Cixi? Either death could lead to a catastrophe and it’s up to Holmes and Watson to try to find and if so unravel everything in time.

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I can always enjoy a good Sherlock Holmes retelling when well executed and that is without doubt the case with Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil. Both the setting and the descriptions are very well done and made me feel as if I were in the room along with the main characters. The outcoming might not have been all that surprising, but the plot twists are still well executed and feel very much like ‘Holmes’. All in all without doubt a very satisfying read.


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ARC REVIEW: Feel Me Fall – by James Morris

Title: Feel Me Fall
Author: James Morris

Genre: YA, Mystery, Adventure
First published: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: XPresso Book Tours
Finished reading: May 25th 2017
Pages: 260

“Books have given me an escape from my own forgettable life. They’ve taken me to places I’ll probably never see. They’ve introduced me to people and events and made me feel less alone. Words aren’t just words; they’re alchemy.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and XPresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve read and enjoyed a few of James Morris‘ stories in the past, so when I was approached with the question if I wanted to read Feel Me Fall I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I like books with a different setting and this survival story (partly) set in the Amazon jungle definitely triggered my curiosity. Feel Me Fall is basically about a bunch of teenagers first surviving a plane crash and then having to find a way to survive in the middle of the Amazon jungle until help arrives. These survival scenes are mixed with typical high school scene flashbacks and short chapters where the sole survivor Emily tells her story. This mix of contemporary and adventure definitely made Feel Me Fall into a very interesting read! The story started out strong and I really enjoyed the writing style; it’s very engaging. It’s a quick read with a fast pace and especially the survival chapters stood out for me. One thing though: I would have probably enjoyed this story even better without the many high school cliches and more importantly multiple love triangles. The first I can live with, but the love triangles and ‘forbidden’ love parts didn’t really add anything substantial to the story and distracted from the main plot (which is interesting enough on its own). That doesn’t take away I still very much enjoyed this story and Feel Me Fall will also have a plot twist or two that will surprise you. And that ending!

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Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and a few other teenagers alone in the middle of the Amazon jungle. They will have to try and survive until help arrives… And hope people will actually find them in the middle of nowhere. The group is lost and they are slowly losing hope as they struggle against the elements and also each other… Because they weren’t exactly all friends back home, and it’s hard to trust each other when in full survival mode. Why is Emily the only one left alive? What happened to the others?

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Feel Me Fall is without doubt a superfast and entertaining read. I really liked the mix of Amazon survival/adventure chapters with contemporary high school flashbacks and those set in the hospital after Emily is rescued. It’s just the right balance and makes this story that much more interesting to read. I could have done without the cliches and love triangles, but overall this is definitely a great read. The writing style is very engaging!


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ARC REVIEW: Words In Deep Blue – by Cath Crowley

Title: Words In Deep Blue
Author: Cath Crowley

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: June 6th 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Finished reading:  May 22nd 2017
Pages: 288

“There should be a disconnect button you can push when someone leaves: you’ve fucked me over; therefore I no longer love you. I’m not asking for the button to be connected to an ejector seat that removes them from the universe, just one small button that removes them from your heart.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Knopf Books For Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve actually just realized this is book number 600 since I started this blog! I still can’t wrap my head around that number… And such a wonderful story to reach that mark with as well. Words In Deep Blue has the most gorgeous cover and is a YA contemporary romance story that partly takes place in a bookshop. The bookshop isn’t just a setting though; both the store and the books play a significant role in the story. I love the idea behind the Letter Library and people being able to communicate through letters left in those books. These letters being included in between chapters were a really nice touch and made Words In Deep Blue that much more unique. It isn’t just another love story either as more serious themes as death, grief and loss are included as well. The characters are well developed and it’s interesting to see how they evolve, although I do have to say I wasn’t completely charmed by them. It’s probably because of the multiple love triangles, but some of their behavior could get a little annoying after a while. Though it might just be me being allergic to love triangles; I’m sure contemporary romance fans will not be bothered be it. This was also the only negative thing I could find about this story and it didn’t prevent me from flying through the pages and finishing it in less than a day. A very enjoyable read for sure and I loved the bookish references! It’s without doubt a little gem.

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Rachel and Henry have been best friends for years and during all that time she has never told Henry she has a crush on him. She regrets that decision when he lays his eyes on someone else, and decides to tuck a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop the day before she moved away. Henry never showed up and the hurt Rachel lost contact with him over time… But now she is back in town and somehow working in the same bookshop her heart was broken. And that’s not the only bad thing that happened in her life during her time away…

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I don’t want to reveal to much of the plot to avoid spoilers, but it’s without doubt a wonderful story with enjoyable prose. Words In Deep Blue reads superfast and shows a wide variety of emotions in a realistic way. I personally wasn’t happy with the multiple love triangles and some of the romance, but I loved the idea behind the Letter Library and enjoyed seeing how the characters evolved over time. Words In Deep Blue is perfect of YA contemporary romance fans!


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